Ecommerce Marketing

How To Decrease Ecommerce Cart Abandonment And Improve Your Conversion Rates (+ Increase Your Revenue)

Robirt Kong / 8 min read
Abandoned Cart

How To Decrease Ecommerce Cart Abandonment And Improve Your Conversion Rates (+ Increase Your Revenue)

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U.S. retailers spend approximately $23.50 billion on digital ads per year to drive traffic to their ecommerce websites, but the average conversion rate hovers around 2.68%

Clearly, despite investments to attract relevant traffic, the majority of visitors still leave empty handed.


Many retailers continue to struggle with this leaky funnel, and high shopping cart abandonment rates are a key contributor. In this article, we’ll identify the key reasons shoppers abandon their purchases and provide key strategies you can implement to improve your conversion rates. 

What is Shopping Cart Abandonment?

Shopping cart abandonment occurs when customers add items to their shopping cart but leave before finishing their purchase. 

Cart abandonment rate is an important business metric for retailers to monitor, as it is strongly correlated to customer conversion rates and revenue. A high cart abandonment rate is a common indicator of friction in your checkout process or experience.

How Do I Calculate the Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate of My Online Store?

To calculate the cart abandonment rate, divide the total number of completed purchases by the number of created carts. Subtract from one, then multiply by 100. 

For example, if you have 300 carts created, and 100 completed purchases, then your cart abandonment rate is 67%.

Shopping Cart Abandonment

Image courtesy of Bolt

Statistics: Shopping Cart Abandonment

Checkout abandonment rates vary based on what industry you’re operating in, what product you’re selling, and who exactly you’re selling to. Based on Baymard Institute’s 2019 research, the average cart abandonment rate is 69.57%.

Cart Abandonment

Source: Statista

Ideally, you’ll want to optimize your cart abandonment rate to be lower than this. However, this is a benchmark for average performance. If your abandonment rate is around this number, a little bit of optimization will have you on your way to a higher conversion rate in no time. 

Top Reasons For Shopping Cart Abandonment

Friction in the checkout process and a lack of transparency into elements like shipping costs and return policies are some of the main drivers of shopping cart abandonment. 

You’ll never be able to fully eliminate cart abandonment. But understanding what’s causing shoppers to abandon their purchase and being proactive about optimizing trouble spots will help protect your conversion rate. 

Let’s dig into some of the more specific triggers for shopping cart abandonment.

1. Long or confusing checkout process.

Shoppers want to cross the finish line as quickly and easily as possible. A complicated checkout process with many steps and multiple form fills can create friction and slow your shoppers down. Not only does this take away from the current checkout experience on your site, it can also permanently deter them from ever purchasing on your site again. 

2. Unexpected shipping costs.

The shock of unexpected costs usually occurs after a shopper has entered their shipping information, only to find out they’ve incurred additional charges they didn’t anticipate. Customers may reevaluate their purchase once they see those fees, then abandon their cart if they feel their expectations aren’t being met.

3. Mandatory account creation. 

Requiring users to create an account before checking out is an unnecessary barrier to purchase. This is particularly true for first time shoppers who may not be quite ready to sign up for an account. Requiring shoppers to create a username and password to complete a purchase adds an extra step to the checkout flow and slows down the order completion process. 

4. Payment security concerns. 

Most customers are, understandably, very cautious about online payments. If they don’t feel safe providing personal information or have concerns that their payment information will not be handled securely, they will not follow through with their purchase. 

5. Restrictions on product quantity. 

Shoppers don’t want to add items to their cart only to find out later that they can’t actually buy them because of restrictions on how much each person can purchase. Being upfront about quantity limits helps set expectations that a product might have limited availability, reducing consumer frustration later. 

6. Comparison shopping. 

Thanks to the internet and the rise of mobile commerce, customers have access to many options when shopping online and can compare those options quickly. It is not uncommon for deal-hunting shoppers to add items to a cart, only to ultimately purchase from another retailer offering a better deal. 

7. Lack of desirable payment options.

Online shoppers want to complete their purchase using the payment methods that are most convenient for them. Some shoppers may be willing to accept the default option, but for others, your inability to support their preferred method — whether it’s PayPal, Apple Pay, or a buy now, pay later option — is grounds for them to leave the site altogether. 

8. Ambiguous return and refund policy. 

Customers often get information on return policies and warranties after adding items to their cart. An insufficient or ambiguous return policy can cause customers to second guess their purchase. Shoppers want to know that should anything go wrong with the product, they can easily return it to the retailer and receive a refund. 

9. Unexpected delivery times. 

Shoppers expect their items to be delivered in a reasonable timeframe. If they have to wait too long, the value of shopping online over going into a store is diminished. A customer looking to receive their product by a certain date might choose to look elsewhere instead of waiting for your store to ship. 

10. Site speed and app performance issues. 

A buggy or unstable ecommerce site can cause shoppers to lose confidence in your checkout — or to just get frustrated and leave. Shoppers are less likely to enter their payment information after experiencing an unexpected crash or slow page load times out of fear that they’ll be double-charged for the purchase or that their payment might fail. 

11. No discounts and promo codes to use. 

Shoppers often find themselves inundated with offers and promotions from multiple retailers. Deal-seekers may expect your store to offer similar discounts and, if you don’t, they may choose to buy from your competitor.

Tactics to Decrease Your Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate 

The checkout process should never be difficult for your customers. By focusing on these cart optimization tips, you’ll be on your way to promoting a more seamless shopping experience on your site.

1. Be transparent about all costs. 

When you give customers all costs upfront, including any shipping costs, what taxes apply, and any other fees they should expect, you reduce the likelihood that you’ll catch shoppers off guard with an unexpected price increase.

Tylerr Shopping Cart

TYLER’S automatically adds any related shipping costs to the final order price directly on the order preview page.

2. Include progress indicators on the checkout page. 

A progress indicator helps users understand where they are in the checkout process, and how much further they have to go. 

A near completed progress bar can also serve as a visual reinforcement for shoppers to continue with their purchase. Shoppers might be even more motivated to complete their purchase if they’ve seen how much they’ve already invested in your checkout. 

3. Include thumbnails of products throughout the checkout process. 

Including thumbnails of products throughout the checkout process can be a way to reassure customers of their current purchase. 

During an in-person purchase, customers are able to see and feel the item they are buying — something they can’t really do during an online purchase. Product thumbnails are especially useful for keeping these products top of mind during the entire checkout process. 

Shopping Cart

Badgley Mischka provides a thumbnail of their fragrance throughout the entire checkout process so shoppers can clearly see what they are purchasing.

4. Make navigation between cart and store effortless. 

Customers want to quickly add items to their shopping cart and get back to browsing the rest of your inventory as easily as possible. The more work you force your customers to do, the less likely they are to buy the products in their carts. 

Make it effortless for your customers to drop items into their cart and quickly return to checkout when they’re ready to buy. Some retailers have also made it possible for shoppers to checkout directly from the product page to minimize the number of clicks and page views necessary to complete a transaction. 

Ecommerce Cart Abandonment

  Extreme Power House makes it easy for shoppers to quickly checkout once they’ve found the right tire rim. Adding the item to the shopping cart populates a checkout modal that allows shoppers to purchase from the product page they were previously browsing.

5. Optimize page load speeds. 

The last thing you want is for a customer to question if their order went through successfully. Having a fast loading page can satisfy your shoppers’ demand for a speedy checkout experience. Not only will your customers be happier, they’ll also be more inclined to buy additional products from your website because they wouldn’t have to wait as long. 

6. Provide guest checkout options. 

Locking the checkout behind a user wall can deter new visitors on your site. To make sure you’re not excluding any potential customers, offer the ability to check out as a guest instead of forcing account creation. If you want to collect emails and other contact information for promotional purposes, you can prompt shoppers to save their checkout information at the confirmation page step. 

7. Offer live chat support. 

An added benefit of shopping in-store is that you get access to friendly staff who are ready to help you find items or answer their questions. You can mirror this same level of care and attention by integrating customer support options into your checkout flow. Using cart abandonment data, identify areas where shoppers are more likely to drop off and allow users to chat with a customer support rep to reduce abandonment. 

Shopping Cart

Kettlebell Kings provides a chat feature that allows shoppers to chat with the brand using Facebook Messenger.

8. Use trust symbols to reassure customers.

Shoppers want to know that your store is secure when they share sensitive information like their credit card number and shipping address. One way to build customer confidence in your platform is by displaying relevant security icons and seals throughout the process. Showcasing PCI-DSS compliance and other safety seals can help reassure shoppers that their profile and details will be kept safe through to order completion. 

9. Offer several payment options. 

Offering a single payment option — or too few choices — can put unnecessary obstacles between you and your shoppers. Today’s shoppers have access to multiple payment options including direct bank transfers, digital wallets, and credit cards. 

Offering support for the most popular payment options, particularly the ones used most by your target audience, helps ensure you’re not turning away good customers. For particularly high AOV (average order value) products, you might consider allowing shoppers to purchase using customer financing options. 

Shopping Cart Abandonment

MyBikeShop offers shoppers the ability to split their payment into smaller monthly payments instead of having to pay the full price up front.

10. Create a solid refund and return policy. 

Return policies are important for ecommerce since shoppers don’t have the luxury of trying on items or seeing a product in person. Offering customers a good return policy gives shoppers peace of mind when they purchase items from your store. You’ll want to clearly link to the return policy early in the checkout process to inform shoppers and hopefully entice them to buy.

Integrating Marketing Tactics to Combat Cart Abandonment

Shoppers will undoubtedly abandon their purchase on your site. Through a mix of off-site and on-site marketing efforts, you’ll be able to re-engage with these shoppers and get them to reconsider making a purchase. 

1. Exit-intent pop-up. 

Add a feedback loop that is triggered when customers abandon their shopping cart. These pop-ups can clarify why users are abandoning their cart or be used to surface a promotional discount. Sometimes all that’s needed to get your shoppers to complete the purchase is a discount code for a percentage off their purchase. As the user is about to close the window or navigate to a different tab, auto-populate a small popup with the item they are leaving behind in their shopping cart. 

2. Use retargeting for cart abandoners. 

Some shoppers require multiple touchpoints before they’re ready to commit to a purchase. Retargeting your cart abandoners with relevant ads helps keep the items they viewed or placed in their cart top of mind. The goal is to spur your customers to purchase by reminding them of the items they left in their shopping cart. 

3. Personalized follow-up emails. 

Follow up with customers after checkout abandonment with cart recovery emails. Remind shoppers they haven’t completed their purchase and give them the ability to pick up where they left off. To streamline the process, consider populating a link that takes them to the exact stage they were at before they left. Offering a small discount is also a good way to entice shoppers to revisit their purchase.

4. Employ social proof. 

Leveraging social proof is another tactic you can use to help spur shoppers to make a purchase. Fill up product pages and even abandon cart emails with testimonials from other happy customers and reviews of specific products to help communicate the value of your products. 

Start Optimizing Your Ecommerce Store to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment 

Reducing your shopping cart abandonment rate will be an ongoing process. To aid your optimization efforts, consider utilizing data from a variety of sources. Leverage both qualitative and quantitative data to drive your experimentation. 

1. Analyze user behavior for conversion funnel leaks. 

Tools like Google’s Advanced Ecommerce Analytics can help you create comprehensive conversion funnels to map out  exactly where shoppers are dropping off. For example, attrition on the payments page may suggest that there is a problem with how you’re capturing payment information. Or, maybe there’s a key payment method your customers want to use to complete their purchase. 

2. Collect customer feedback about pain points. 

Don’t be afraid to ask both converted shoppers and cart abandoners about how you can improve your checkout process. Getting direct feedback from your customer base can reveal insights that might have been hard to measure with your data analytics tool. Asking open-ended questions allows shoppers to easily qualify their experience and highlight key areas for improvement. 

3. Conduct A/B testing. 

Run A/B tests regularly to see which designs, layouts, and forms of content perform the best. Make sure that when running A/B tests, you alter only one variable at a time, so you can identify what impacts the performance of the new campaign.

Conclusion

While every customer segment is different, a lot of shoppers have somewhat similar buying habits and preferences. One thing is clear: checkout experiences that are frustrating and time consuming are more likely to cause shoppers to abandon their purchase. 

To succeed in today’s experience-driven world, online retailers must continue to prioritize stellar purchase experiences to convert shoppers into paying customers. 

Want more insights like this?

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    Robirt Kong

    Robirt Kong

    Digital Marketing Associate

    Robirt is Digital Marketing Associate at Bolt and specializes in SEO, content, and web experiences for the checkout experience platform. Outside of work, you'll find him relaxing on the beach or spending time on his streetwear brand.

    View all posts by Robirt Kong
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